Metadata provides information about a resource or object. It can be generated or constructed to describe information ranging from format of the object, to the description and may even include who may access the object. Often formatted in computer readable form, the goal is to provide computer-to-computer discovery to assist the researcher in finding the information where and when they desire.
Smithsonian Libraries' Metadata Department in the Division of Digital Programs and Initiatives strives to provide new, successful methods for the dissemination of SIL's traditional and hidden collections. The Department promotes the sharing, reusing, and repurposing of data that is used in the processing of digital projects, traditional library materials, and unique hidden collections of the Libraries. The Department supports the overall mission of the Libraries and the Smithsonian Institution by providing descriptive and consultation services. Staff in the Department work with others in the Libraries, the Institution, as well as colleagues around the world to provide the needed metadata from discovery to delivery.
Monitoring new and developing tools, the Department construct metadata according to national and international standards even if: "Metadata standards are like toothbrushes - everyone wants to use them, but no one want to use anyone else's."
Current projects under development include reporting and visualization of metrics, citation data for publications and datasets, description of trade literature and art vertical files, linked data initiatives, and global identifiers for researchers, publications and datasets. Staff participate in major international cooperative efforts such as the Biodiversity Heritage Library, Global Philatelic Library, and development of metadata model for 3d scanning.